State of Washington v. Joseph Douglas Neth

This court case is completed

On January 18, 2006, Joseph Neth was driving from Vancouver to Goldendale when he was stopped for speeding. The officer did a records check and discovered an unconfirmed outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license. A drug-sniffing dog arrived, sniffed along the exterior of the car, and "hit" on the passenger door. The officers then impounded the car. They applied for a search warrant the following day.

Like homes, vehicles are also a constitutionally protected area. This Court recognized long ago that Washingtonians have a strong privacy interest in their automobiles, and there is no Washington "automobile exception" allowing a search without a warrant.

Update, November 26, 2008: Neth was subsequently convicted of possession with intent to deliver. On appeal, however, the Washington Supreme Court concluded that officers did not have probable cause to search Joseph Neth’s car and the evidence obtained pursuant to the warrant should have been suppressed. Neth’s conviction was reversed.